Cleat Geeks

Off the Tee: A busy week

Professional golf’s condensed summer schedule leaves a trifecta of big tournaments to be played this holiday weekend, with a PGA Tour event, a European Tour stop plus a World Golf Championship event that combines many of the top players from both tours.

Here’s a quick look at each:

Sergio Garcia tees off on the 12th hole during the final round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational golf tournament. Photo by:  Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Sergio Garcia tees off on the 12th hole during the final round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational golf tournament. Photo by: Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

WGC Bridgestone Classic – Typically this event takes place in early August, just before the PGA Championship, but it’s been bumped forward a month due to that tournament’s early start thanks to the Olympics.

The field, normally around 75 to 80 players, only has 61 this year, since some of the big international names are choosing to play the European Tour event.

It does include the top three in the world rankings in Jason Day, Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson, making his first start since his U.S. Open triumph.

Unlike past years when this event has been a springboard into the PGA Championship, this year it’s a chance to get a boost heading into the British Open, which will be played in two weeks at Royal Troon.

The first two rounds feature three of the last four U.S. Open champions, as Johnson joins Spieth and 2013 winner Justin Rose.

HenryRenoTahoeOpenBarracuda Championship – The rest of the PGA Tour heads to the shores of Lake Tahoe for the lone event on its schedule played with a different scoring system. The Modified Stableford system counts up in points – 2 points for a birdie, 5 for an eagle, -1 for a bogey, -3 for a double bogey or worse.

J.J. Henry has won this event two of the last four years and is back again, as are a pair of former champions in Geoff Ogilvy and Gary Woodland. Jon Rahm, who nearly won his first professional start last week, is in the field as well.

French Open – The European Tour event is highlighted by Rory McIlroy, as well as Masters champion Danny Willett, 2014 U.S. Open winner Martin Kaymer and Lee Westwood, who had a close call at this year’s U.S. Open before fading the final day.

Former U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell won this event in both 2013 and 2014, while Austrian Bernd Wiesberger was last year’s champ. They’re also in France this week for the tournament.

 

Bridgestone Picks

While we might have a better chance of winning if we picked all three events, we’ll stick with the biggest of the three tournaments, the WGC Bridgestone.

Photo by: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Photo by: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Dustin Johnson – It might be a bit far-fetched to think D.J. could follow up his first major win with a victory here. But he has all the game for a course that is a long hitter’s paradise.

Branden Grace – The South African won the week after The Masters and has added two more top 10’s since then, including a tie for 5th at the U.S. Open.

Adam Scott – Scott won twice early in the calendar year but has struggled by his standards since. He’s due, and needs some good momentum heading into the two major championships in July.

Longshot – J.B. Holmes – Given the quality of this field, there aren’t any wild longshots playing. And while Holmes is only 44th in the FedEx Cup point standings, he has two impressive top-five finishes, at The Masters and last month at Memorial.

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